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Transcript TitleWrangles, Edward (O1996.23)
IntervieweeEdward Wrangles (EW)
InterviewerHeather Fogg (HF)
Transcriber bySusie Hunt


Hertford Oral History Group

Recording no: O1996.23

Interviewee: Edward Wrangles (EW)

Date: 1996

Venue: Unknown

Interviewer: Heather Fogg (HF)

Transcriber: Susie Hunt

Typed by: Susie Hunt

************** unclear recording

[discussion] untranscribed material

italics editor’s notes

EW: Is it on now? Oh I’ll start again now!

Well we used to go to school at the age of 4 and there used to be a bell on the school that used to ring and we used to and the houses they’re all in fours if you notice, there are one or two twos but each block of houses had their own tap, their own water tap. Yeah and the water was supplied by one of the water wheels that worked

HF: What, at Waterford?

EW: Yeah you seen the bridge?

HF: Near where the old mill was?

EW: Yeah there was a wheel each side. One used to do Bengeo and one used to do Goldings. The house we lived in that had eight rooms and that was the biggest house in the village

HF: Which one was that then?

EW: Well going towards Stapleford you know the Waterford Arms on the left, there’s a block of 4 well its not a block of 4 now cos its private. On the right hand side. Well we lived in the first one. Don’t know if you know who lives there. I’ve forgot his name.

HF: I don’t know.

EW: Anyway there’s a… there’s still the old apple tree in there that my dad. Cos I’m the youngest. There was ten born.

HF: Goodness (laughter)

EW: Every Christmas you see the Smiths used to give the a big Christmas do in the school and every woman in the village had a present.

HF: Every woman?

EW: Every grown up woman had a present and of course the children used to get the books for school attendance and for attending church and everything. They used to get books for that. And then the choir boys and the choir girls, the choir boys used have blue capes and the girls had red riding hood.

HF: How big was the choir then? In the school or in the church?

EW: In the church. The girls used sit in the front pew of the church and the boys and the men used to have their choir next door. I supposed there was about… er.. 20 boys and 10 men and the choir master he came from Hatfield he used to have a boys school at Hatfield and he used to bring 4 boys with him and every quarter we got half-a-crown! (laughter)

HF: That was your pay?

EW: Yup! Half a crown and er

HF: Was that for two services on Sunday or just one?

EW: We used go morning and evening and then Sunday school in the afternoon.

HF: Three times a day - three times on Sundays

EW: Yep, and er the men used to get well they used to have the day there I think and then when the old choir master left he went to the start of a school at Hastings and the men used to go down there. And of course they used to have - what did they used to call it - a mothers meeting? One afternoon a week the men used to have a bible class

HF: Just the men was it?

EW: Yes just the men and then the um well what they call teenagers now used to have Band of ‘Ope.

HF: How often did that meet then?

EW: Every week once a week.

HF: You met in the church for that?

EW: No in the - no there used to be in the almshouses - thats the four houses before you get to the church.

HF: And the little one was the mission hall they met in there

EW: Yeh and the old lady that lived there Mrs Ward she had dealings with… erm… washing our surplices and…

HF: She lived there as well as ...

EW: She lived there yes.

HF: She live upstairs?

EW: No she was downstairs and upstairs and afterwards that’s where my mother lived in that house there. Yes so er..

HF: This is before the first world war?. What date is this?

EW: Ah well - when we used to go in the choir I was when we was about 5 or 6

HF: As young as that?

EW: Oh yes

HF: That was well before the first world war

EW: I was 8 when the first world war broke out. And of course if you got caught running about the churchyard you used to get fined a penny (laughter!).

HF: An old penny (laughter)

EW: Yeah that was a lot of money! And that bit of green over the bridge, what’s that big house HF: The Verney

EW: Yeah they used to have a fair every Whit Monday there and his name, they used to call him Rocky Taylor. From Hertford. They called him Rocky because he used to make his own rock. He had coconut stalls and roundabouts there. On that bit of green, yeah.

Transcribers Note: Rocky’s real name was Sidney Walter Taylor and he lived on Port Hill, Bengeo. He was the eldest son of Walter Taylor the “Muffin man” who had taught him how to make all the sweets and rock.

HF: When did this stop then?

EW: All these things stopped when Mrs Smith died. There were so many death duties and that that even they had a sale and Dr Barnardos bought it and he moved down the farm then

And er well I mean there is no flood now

HF: There was in 1968. Someone gave me a photograph of the floods in 1968. EW: ’68? There used to be a flood every year.

HF: Every year?

EW: Every year there and it all used to be down the lane. The lane always used to be flooded and all the marsh used to be flooded and the Lee Valley down the Water Board done something, stopped all that. And er I know one year during the war that was a bad blizzard and there was a huge flood there and that washed, standing on the bridge, well that water its shallow there now isn’t it well that used to be a big deep hole there where the water washed all the shingle away and that shingle was put on the side and that helped to build the war memorial.

HF: Oh (squeals) Oh there wasn’t a ford there in your time I suppose? EW: No I don’t think, they used to call it a water-ford but…

HF: I found in my 1880 and its got ford written beside it in 1880.

EW: Yeah, the only place I can think is down beside the conker tree just near the Post Office. The Post office is it still there?

HF: No it shut about 3 years ago.

EW: Oh, well that’s where the Post office used - its the only place I can think of where there was a ford where it was the shallowest.

HF: That’s where it said on the map. You haven’t any memory of it?

EW: No, no. - and er we used to go cray fishing there which I should think there’s some there now as big as lobsters, but nobody does it now, I bet. The last time we went oh we got quite a lot. We didn’t get half a bag full but we got quite a lot and you can only get them during the night time you see you can’t get them

HF: You can’t get them in the daytime……

EW: No you can’t they won’t come out not when it’s daylight and you get a ring with a net on it, put some bits of fish on and then you have a long string with a tin lid that shines right the way back then you lay perhaps a dozen of these nets out and after about 10 minutes you follow the string along and pull it up and then put a light on and I bet you’ve got half a dozen on each net!

HF: (laughter)

EW: And near the bridge at the back of them houses there used to be a brick wall and we used to pick some big ones up there. Only on a net with a bit of fish, that’s all but I say it, I think village life then when I was a nipper- is far better than their lives today.

HF: Did you spend most of your time in the village?

EW: Until I was 18 and I joined the Guards and then I went in the Palestine police

HF: Oh you’ve been around a lot then (laughs) Yes

EW: But I‘ve kept in the village you know when we saw your thing and I said to the wife I wonder if I can help her in any way.

HF: Well you’re the oldest person I’ve come into contact with. Nobody else can go back that far. EW: Well my brother he died.

HF: He was Albert Wrangles wasn’t he? EW: Well he lived in the village all his life

HF: Well if you lives in somewhere all the time you don’t notice the changes than you do when you go back. So when you were a child did you often go to Hertford or did you spend most of your childhood playing around

EW: Well we used to play around er there was times when my mother or any of the other women we used to leave school about ten to twelve and run into Hertford to the butchers and run back. They had dinner from school

HF: All the way to Hertford and back? Good gracious!

EW: No good saying you wasn’t going because (laughter and exclamations)

HF: That must have taken quite a long time

EW: No not really because today you never see a hoop do you? You get a hoop and run. HF: What take the hoop into the butchers?

EW: Hang it on one of those hooks - you go to the blacksmith he’d make you one and er trundle a hoop along running its surprising you know because its not very far you know from Waterford to well there used to be a butchers shop at the end of bottom of Port Hill.

HF: Oh yes I see.

EW: Its not far is it ? I mean all them fields there’s a round field there near the white house isn’t there? Well that and you know where your hall is, there, now all that field when the grass grew you could go and see ragged robins, nightingales the flower nightingales. And wild orchids see they’ve all gone now I suppose.

HF: I’m sure they have. There aren’t any orchids around there now. EW: So you see it’s all gone now.

HF: Well would you run along the roads then or go through the fields to get to the butchers.

EW: Along the road.

HF: So was it a made up or…

EW: Oh no it was a.. er.. you know I mean it wasn’t like roads are today - they used to do it with big granite chippings and then they used to tar it and throw sand over it and that was the road and now Bramfield Road used to be made with the stones from off the fields. You know the old reformatory school at Chapmore End they used to have boys from there for stone picking. They used to go round the farms stone picking and them stones used to help make up the roads. Now the bridges from the cemetery to the Waterford waterfall now Smiths built them but what year he built them I don’t know.

HF: I think was 1869.

EW: My dad told me before that was built they used to turn up the Bramfield Road near the cemetery and if you go up there sometime you’ll see a gate on the cemetery well almost opposite there’s another gate. It might be overgrown a bit now but the gate is still there and that’s where the road used to go straight across that field come out into the park and that’s why he had them houses built. So that they shouldn’t go in front of there.

HF: (laughs) Do you remember many other things your father told you about Waterford? Had your father always lived in Waterford?

EW: Yeah - I’ll have to think. He was he used to be a sort of groom to the Bailiff and work in the gardens as well. Nearly all the boys from the village they all worked there, nothing else for them - I went in the gardens I did but of course you see when Mrs Smith went sold up so I thought well this is my lot so that’s when me and my pal…

HF: Joined the Guards…..

EW: Cause there was the girls at school and the boys all used to muck in together and not of this ‘ere bashing about then. We was all good friends all looked after one another. Yeah.

HF: And did the girls locally work?

EW: No they went - well one or two did but the others they gave up and that’s the last you see of them. But of course … at Christmas us being a big family the Smiths give so much meat to every family according to the size [clanking in the background] I’m getting a dry mouth ere (laughter) Oh yeah they er and er every time there was a woman had a baby in the village for a fortnight there was a dinner sent down from the big house. I mean all that helped to make up I mean we heard a lot about the bad old days but we never had bad old days not really.

HF: You were lucky having a good family in the big house.

EW: Well everybody in the village was friendly and the Smiths used to help you see and they used to give us a big tea party on their lawn every summer you see

HF: Well that must have been fun! EW: Well yes and um.

HF: Who went then?

EW: All the children from school and their mums and that. HF: Oh really!

EW: Oh yes.

HF: Did you ever go in the big house? Did you go inside it?

EW: Well I did but not to stop at all. They used to give a pint of skimmed milk to everybody in the village, every day. They used to have a dairy maid you see and er well they had - what did they used to call it a separator and the skimmed milk they didn’t want so they give it to - and well sometimes I’ve had as many as five or six cans - you take for people and they give you sixpence at the end of the week.

HF: (laughs) so you think the Smiths were really very generous.

EW: And of course in them days when you was at school you learnt to touch your hat to the Smiths and the parson and the Headmistress. That was the recognised thing but now they put em in the gutter don’t they!

Well I mean you could walk about that village in the dark anybody I mean in them days - they say eat plenty of carrots. (laughter!)

HF: Do you remember the electricity coming at Waterford? When would that have been?

EW: I do ah well I’d have been 22- 23 they used to have candles in the church and they used to be on um used to pull em down and they used to be 5 candles on each.

HF: The circular…..

EW: The square and then one up the top there one on each square yeah and then they used to be pushed up outside so we couldn’t touch em.

HF: On a pulley then were they?

EW: Yeah on a hook and they’d pull em down light em and then push em back up. Yeah I went over there

HF: Did they drop grease on people?

EW: No they used to have a big sort of thing like that

HF: Can’t have been very high

EW: You could tell which way the draught was blowing! (laughter). It was surprising what you could see with a candle - well that was put in there but I don’t know when it was come into the village. How long have you been up there?

HF: I’ve been in Hertford for about 20 years but in High Molewood for 9.

EW: Oh. They used to go up there, that’s where they used to go and get their up on top of the tunnel, that’s where they er they set all the blackberry bushes up there they used to go blackberrying. For the house.

HF: Oh for Goldings then was it specially for Goldings up there then to pick something. We’ve got a lot of blackberries outside our house.

EW: Just before you turn into your gate coming from Hertford - I don’t suppose it’s there now - there used to be steps

HF: Jacob’s Ladder! An old lady’s given me a photograph EW: That’s old Jacob’s ladder!

HF: That’s right they found that up on an old map too and this old lady’s given me the photograph. Did you ever go up there then ever been up Jacob’s ladder?

EW: No!

HF: Was it private to Goldings. It was Goldings? EW: Oh yes it was private.

HF: Oh I thought it was a public path! No that was Goldings then.

HF: You can just make out where they were. You can just see it the shape on the hillside. EW: Of course the council’s got the big house haven’t they?

HF: Yes, that’s right yes.

EW: Who’s got all the parkland?

HF: They’ve got that too, the council has. They keep the grass cut and it looks very nice. I think on the marshes they keep the cows on there


EW: They’ve got cattle on there haven’t they? That’s where they used to pay. Now what’s that money they used to pay? Lammas money I think they used to call it. That was what the people who put cattle on that’s what they used to pay isn’t it? That was shared out amongst the villages wasn’t it?

HF: Really I - so people outside the village would put cattle on there EW: Yeah from Bengeo and…

HF: I see.

EW: Yeah and I suppose they paid so much and er it was paid out every year HF: And the money was shared among the villages?

EW: Only get what perhaps a shilling that’s all. HF: Would your father get some?

EW: Yeah he’d get a shilling. HF: Who paid it to you then?

EW: In the there’s a smallholding half way down the street isn’t there with a brick wall , well that house there, Mr Roberts used to live there and he was the councillor and he used to do that. And before him a “swine” lived there - Swaine, Mr Swaine, we used to go there to get our pots of treacle and that.

HF: Treacle??

EW: Black treacle. He used to - you know you run it out the tap - you take the jam jar and you get the treacle from him.

HF: Like a little shop you mean?

EW: Yeah they used to have a little sweet shop and in one of the sheds he used to have this treacle and that (lots of laughter!). and you’d go there he’d make you a top. You’d say I want a top I’ve lost mine and he’d make you one. They was great people them days. `Like Mr Buggergrave…

HF: Who?

EW: Bygraves!

HF: Oh Mr Bygraves yes.

EW: Did you know him?

HF: No

EW: Well he used to be the sexton. He used to ring them three bells cos they HF: I ring those once a month

EW: Do you?

HF: (laughter) You’ve got two hands and you’ve got three bells. (laughter)

EW: You should do what he done. Put your foot in one! And he used to - marvellous. I think it was marvellous. He used to keep that church yard like a lawn.

HF: Do you want to drink your tea and I’ll stop for a minute. Tape stops and restarts

HF: Who taught you to plait then.

EW: You watch the other boys.

HF: And it took a lot of corn to do it?

EW: Yeah cos to get a long plait and you only want that much straw in all the corn bit you throw that away once you’ve started yeah that was thrown away. So if you was caught dong it you’d be hauled over the coals over it. Oh yeah and see the all these pea shooters well of course everybody could make a catapult I suppose (laughs) and er oh yeah lots of er…

HF: What other things did you do? EW: Swimming.

HF: You went in the river?

EW: Yeah and you wasn’t allowed to go in before 7 o’clock at night. I don’t know, but that was the law that was the rules from Smiths and you wasn’t allowed cos that was their river. And of course you couldn’t go in at all on Sundays. Because the people going through the markets for their walks I suppose, seeing boys in trunks and that wasn’t the done thing in them days. (hearty laughter). No the keeper used to come down there and if you were caught then you were hauled over the coals over it.

HF: What.. that was the Smith’s game keeper was it?

EW: Yeah he was the gate keeper. You know the black grove, well it was right in the corner of that the swimming pool. The Waterford side. Otherwise you could see them swimming from your house couldn’t you?

HF: Yes ((laughs)

EW: You couldn’t go in before 7 and that was the only place you could go in unless you was paddling .

HF: So it was deep enough for swimming was it? EW: Oh yeah.

HF: Was that the only place where it was deep enough? EW: That was the only place.

HF: Ooh…

EW: I don’t know what its like now - they told me that once the water board dredged it or something. They broke through the bottom of it and they actually spoilt a lot of it.

HF: So it was an actual like pool, a special swimming place was it?

EW: Well it was on the corner see where the water used to rush round it gradually got deeper. We was never allowed to fish there although we used to fish off the bridge with a net

HF: Was that where you caught your crayfish from the bridge, then?

EW: No, You could get it from the bridge you had to get near the bank to pull it in you’ve got to pull em in quick or otherwise you’ve lost them.

HF: They’d be down the bank.

EW: I don’t suppose they did and I bet there are some beauties there. I bet there are some as big as..

HF: And did you eat them?

EW: Yeah, boil em. Like a lobster. Just like a young lobster ain’t they? They turn red and that’s the last time we went and we got no end. Boil the pot up and put em in. I don’t suppose anyone knows how to make a wif-waf out of a peach conker.

HF: No!

EW: As I said the flowers there all gone haven’t they. I suppose so but I haven’t been over there.

HF: I shouldn’t think think you’d find them now. Orchids and things.

EW: They filled it up. There was plenty of wlld orchids wasn’t there. Pretty they are.

Now all the houses in the village had brick floors. We had brick floors. Do you know who lives in the - there’s a big House near the church isn’t there? Going into the park coming out of the church gates at the top there, that big house.

HF: Two houses.

EW: Well three was two but they made it into one didn’t they?

HF: There’s two at the moment - the one where the artist Trevor Chamberlain lives? Just beside the churchyard.

EW: Oh well that was two but then the bailiff had those two and Mr Bygrave had his bungalow built in the next spare bit of ground opposite didn’t he?

HF: Which was Mr Bygrave’s bungalow then?

EW: Mr Bygrave used to live in one of them houses HF: In one of those two?

EW: Yeah yeah.

HF: So there were two. One was the Bailiff and one was Mr Bygraves.

EW: Then he had a bungalow built when the Smiths finished. I think they gave him that bit of ground there being the church sexton.

HF: Opposite the houses.

EW: Opposite.

HF: There are two or three bungalows there but it would be the oldest one I expect.

EW: Yeah yeah. I don’t know now that the houses that sprung up there. I know the white houses on the left hand side going through the village is there four is there? Or six?

HF: There are two blocks of them aren’t there? EW: Yeah

HF: Do you remember them being built? EW: I can remember them being built.

HF: Oh when was that then?

EW: Oh - must have been when I was 8 or 9 I suppose. (clanking noise!)

HF: Who but those then? The Smiths?

EW: Yes they had em built and you know the big house over there. What do you call it The Little Marsh?

HF: The Verney, the big house called The Verney?


EW: Well that piece of green in front of them that belongs to them now doesn’t it? HF: I’m not sure if they are there still.

EW: Now the first people I knew there was people who belonged to the Napier. HF: The people who lived in The Verney?

EW: When I knew they belonged to the Napier car people.

HF: Oh really!

EW: Their daughter she done nothing else but paint all the time. Yeah and we used to get in the summer we used to get these what do they call these with four horses what pull these coaches? Er, used to have people inside and people on the top.

HF: Mail coaches I guess

EW: Similar to but I forget the name of them now. But they used to come out for a day trip from London

HF: How big were these? EW: What the…

HF: People used to come out in them for a day trip from London and

EW: I don’t know where they’d go, perhaps Stevenage, but when they come back they used to stop at The Waterford Arms and there used to be quite a few of them used to come out and give us a race up the top of the street and back for a penny! (laughter)

HF: What, they’d get out of the coach and…

EW: They used to go in the Waterford Arms and then they’d come out and get half a dozen of us together and have a race up.

HF: What beside the coach? EW: Yeah.

HF: Oh I see.

EW: Used to get a penny. HF: Just for amusement?

EW: Yeah good if we got a penny. Then after this Band of `Ope finished the school mistress Mrs. ???- started a Guild.

HF: For the young people?

EW: Yes and we used to give a concert once a year. HF: Where would you give it, in the school?

EW: Yeah, in the school, every Friday night and sometimes Saturdays we used to always have a dance and whist drive in the school.

HF: That was a sort of social centre?

EW: Yeah. As I say, the old village life was great. HF: Were there any busses or public transport?

EW: Not until oh dear until I was perhaps 14. 10 or 12, perhaps when I was 12. I think they started. Open top just like the old London buses, open top open front and when it rained they put a sheet up.

HF: It was a motor bus? EW: Yeah, solid tyres.

HF: Ooh! On those bumpy roads!

EW: Yeah. The old postman Mr Rainbows, he come from Watton he did. He used to come early morning, pick the mail up. And one back and drop em at Waterford Post Office then go on to Stapleford then Watton then in the afternoon, 3 o’clock he used to go through Waterford again pick up another lot and he used to have a trike - all solid tyres - three solid tyres he used to have yeah I mean - and old Rocky Taylor another one he used to make muffins and crumpets. He had a I don’t know what you call it, a big tray and he had a special hat put the old tray on, ring a bell, come through Waterford, go on the Stapleford then when he got to Stapleford he used to go on the back road back to Bengeo again.

HF: Phew. Oh (laughs). You talked about him near the beginning didn’t you? EW: Yeah I did.

HF: I can’t find him now? What did you say about him before? EW: He used to have a fair on the green.

HF: Oh yes, the fair, yes!